Economic analysis showcases $149 million potential for emerging Nova Scotia farmed kelp and product sector

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia – The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) has released a new market assessment report highlighting the potential for Nova Scotia to secure substantial value from the emerging kelp farming and product sector within the next three to five years. The analysis concludes that Nova Scotia is in a unique position to realize values of $38 million CAD of farmed and processed kelp, a further $20 million in related local economic activity and up to $149 million in consumer and personal care products. This is based on a modest ambition to capture 35 per cent and five per cent of the Canadian and U.S. markets respectively, and with a focus on consumer food and health and beauty products in those markets that already include kelp or where Nova Scotia kelp could easily replace an ingredient.

“Nova Scotia is well positioned to gain a significant share of the North American cultivated kelp market,” says Arlin Wasserman, managing director of Changing Tastes, a management and strategy consultancy working in the sustainable food sector that undertook the analysis. “It has the advantage of coastal communities that are well suited for this regenerative ocean farming along with established industry to support processing. With the work starting now, Nova Scotia can also gain an even larger share by being among the first to establish its farmed kelp industry, and in developing and marketing new varieties, ingredients and uses while others are just getting started.” 

The EAC commissioned the analysis as part of their Kelp Kurious project, which aims to support a kelp sea farming and products sector led by independent growers and small to medium businesses as an opportunity in the green, regenerative economy of the future.   
Key findings include: 

  • Nova Scotia is well positioned to gain a significant share of the $200M regional market for products containing kelp and kelp-based ingredients, making significant contributions to the local economy while delivering environmental benefits. 

  • The North American market demand for kelp will be over 53M kg per year in just a couple of years. 

  • Nova Scotia can quickly capture a share of that market of about 5.4M kg, which can be produced in just over 1,000 hectares of farmed ocean. Farming and processing will generate more than $38M in new economic opportunity in addition to boosting eco-tourism and diversifying income for the seafood industry. 

  • The market for seaweed-based products continues to grow. Nova Scotia can help accelerate that growth and steer it to favour Nova Scotian farmers, businesses and products. 

  • In five to seven years, Nova Scotia can grow the overall market and its share of North American kelp to over 16.5M kg and triple the acreage farmed and contribution to the provincial economy. 

The EAC hopes that with this information, policymakers, investors and other stakeholders can make informed decisions that support the growth of this emerging industry in a manner that benefits local communities. 
"This report provides valuable insights and a strategic roadmap for building this sector in a way that is sustainable and benefits as many communities as possible,” says Shannon Arnold, marine program associate director with the EAC. “At the moment, it can take several years for small-scale entrepreneurs to get permits, and so we’re urging the government to move quickly on its promise to ‘right-size’ the regulations for regenerative sea farming like seaweed and shellfish. Nova Scotia needs fit-for-purpose regulations that protect marine ecosystems and get folks on the water faster, or we risk being left behind by other jurisdictions that are keen on kelp.” 
Until May 21, the EAC is hosting Kelp Fest, a series of events showcasing the potential for local kelp farming and product development in Nova Scotia. As a part of Kelp Fest, the EAC has partnered with several local restaurants and food vendors to show real examples of how kelp can be integrated into our local economy.  

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Media Contact

Shannon Arnold 
Associate Director, Marine Program | Ecology Action Centre 

About Changing Tastes: Changing Tastes is a consultancy that provides business strategy, sustainability, and culinary and product development advice and services to Fortune 500 and growth stage companies, foodservice and hospitality businesses, investors, governments, and the philanthropic sector.  Over the past twenty years, Changing Tastes has pioneered many of the common sustainability practices in the food industry, and created and catalyzed many of the now mainstream changes in what North Americans choose to eat and what the grocery retail and restaurant hospitality industry offers us.   
About Kelp Kurious: The Ecology Action Centre’s (EAC) Kelp Kurious project is helping build a thriving, low impact kelp farming sector in Nova Scotia. From seedling to farming to product development as well as regulatory improvement, Kelp Kurious is offering supports, research and training that EAC hopes will contribute to green economy options for a resilient future.    

Since 1971, EAC has taken leadership on critical issues from biodiversity protection to climate change to environmental justice by showcasing alternatives and advocating for transformational change. 

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